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Effort to provide holiday meals for 1,600 struggling families
Turkeys R Us volunteers have a long way to go before struggling families in Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon can have a traditional Thanksgiving meal. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

It’s the $64,000 question: Will everyone in Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon, and the rest of the South County have a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas meal?

With 33 days to go until Thanksgiving, the community-based Turkeys-R-Us drive has just $1,200 left over from donations made during the 2014 holiday season.

Typical turkeys cost $20 a pop. The $64,000 figure represents the cost of securing turkeys for 1,600 struggling families — once for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas.

The Second Harvest Food Bank in working with Turkeys R Us will encourage corporate sources to match the community’s generosity with all of the fixings typically needed for a holiday meal from vegetables, stuffing, and bread to possibly even pumpkin pies.

Food Bank CEO Mike Mallory noted in past years firms have stepped up to the match the community effort that includes kids donating their allowances, service groups contributing, small businesses, and even the elderly on limited income helping to purchase turkeys so those receiving  holiday food baskets will have a complete holiday meal.

The holiday meal, which could easily cost $80, is something that many working families struggling with reduced income, medical expenses, or other setbacks can’t afford. Then there are single moms and others on limited income.

LeAnn McNabb of Beacon Real Estate who is heading up community Turkeys R Us effort, said she understands what a struggle it can be for families to put food on the table especially during the holidays when lower-paid workers that are connected with agriculture or construction have less work due to the weather and time of year.

McNabb’s mother — Patrice Garcia — is a first generation United States citizen. McNabb’s grandmother immigrated to California from Mexico and worked in the fields. McNabb can remember family members picking apricots in San Joaquin County.  Her father’s side of the family moved to California in search of work in order to eat during the Dust Bowl.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” McNabb said of her involvement with Turkeys R Us. “We are all doing well now so we should give to help others.”

McNabb — who will pick up checks if she is contacted at her cell at 815-6751 — noted there are a large number of donors each year that will give $10 or $20 even though they can’t really afford it.

She remembered one elderly lady who was bed ridden last year that called her. She had saved up $10 and wanted to make sure that kids didn’t go without at Thanksgiving as she once did.

Jessica Vaughn of the Food Bank staff added it isn’t unusual for Turkeys R Us to receive a number of envelopes each year with either a dollar or several dollars inside. They often come with notes apologizing for no having more to give as well as their hopes that no one will go without at the holidays.

“Those are my favorite (donations) to receive,” Vaughn said.

Mallory is hoping he will be able to negotiate a better price for turkeys but as it stands now they will need $20 per family for Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas

Mallory noted Turkeys R us actually has just 26 days to raise $32,000 for the Thanksgiving portion as the food has to be distributed to the 30 food closets that work with those in need at various locations in Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon, and the South County.

If you can assist Turkeys R Us, contact the Second Harvest Food Bank at 239-2091.

Second Harvest will accept frozen turkeys or hams from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the 704 E. Industrial Park Drive location in Manteca.